Hamburg - Following a 50-day spell on the sidelines nursing a niggling calf injury, Hamburger SV captain was understandably delighted to be back in the thick of things in Sunday's 1-1 draw with unbeaten TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Speaking after the game, the Dutchman discussed the port city club's changing fortunes under head coach Josef Zinnbauer, as well as his burning desire to bring that winning feeling back to the Imtech Arena.
Question: Rafael van der Vaart, the wait goes on for that first home win of the season, but would you say a draw was a fair result?
Rafael van der Vaart: At the end of the day, we have to be happy with the point. We started brilliantly, but conceding knocked us off out of our stride a bit. We rediscovered our fighting spirit, though, and might even have won it with a bit more luck.
Question: This time the team didn't cave in after going behind. Is that a testament to the progress you've made under Josef Zinnbauer?
van der Vaart: For ten minutes or so we were up against it, but luckily nothing worse happened. The way we fought back after that speaks volumes.
Question: How was it for you on your comeback?
van der Vaart: I loved being back in the starting line-up, it felt really good. I even had a couple of decent scoring opportunities. I've noticed that I'm slowly regaining my form.
Question: What's it been like for you witnessing the changes at HSV?
van der Vaart: I've been taking it all in during training, so it's nothing new for me. We have a plan that we're trying to put into action. It went well for us against Hoffenheim, but unfortunately it only got us a point.
Question: Slowly but surely you're moving away from the relegation zone. Is that going to continue in the next game in Berlin?
van der Vaart: For me, we've already made big steps with the win at Dortmund and this draw with Hoffenheim. Obviously we want to win in Berlin, but more than anything we want to get a victory at home to really give our fans something to shout about.
Michael Reis reporting from Hamburg